Thursday, March 24, 2011

Burger joint of the week: Reno's Argenta Cafe.

ON A ROLL:  Renos Argenta Burger is served on a Kaiser roll
  • ON A ROLL: Reno's Argenta Burger is served on a Kaiser roll
I’ve been taking burger recommendations for some time now (please keep them coming!) and have been waiting for a chance to check this one out in particular.
Reno’s Argenta Café is a great spot for a cold drink and hot music at night. During the day, it’s a nice spot to grab some iced tea and do some people watching from Eric Francis’ favorite booth in the front window. That’s why I’m utterly baffled that I could stop in at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon and be one of only two customers in the place.
Mind you, I was enjoying myself. The front and back doors were open and the ceiling fans were pulling the perfectly cool springtime breeze in. There were a gaggle of girls across the street decorating a vehicle with “Just Married” on it with cups and ribbons. I watched the yellow trolleys go by several times.
That was all after I ordered the Argenta Burger ($6), a half pound burger served up with a choice of cheese (American, Swiss, Cheddar or provolone) and a side item. That burger’s been mythologized by some of our readers here on Eat Arkansas and I had no choice but to consume it in the name of good eating.
The burger comes with a choice of homemade chips, potato salad or pesto pasta — the later of which I chose. You can also get fries for an additional charge. I wasn’t in the mood for fries.
It was a good choice. The pesto pasta is just that — a nice fresh basil-based pesto over bow tie noodles with bits of fresh tomato. It’s very light and that cup’s worth is probably far better for you than any pile of fries could ever be.
The burger, though. Oh, man. It was bright. It was colorful. There was a half-inch thick slice of very deep red tomato on it. Green leaf lettuce. The onions on it were so fresh that my eyes watered when I bit into it. I’d had my choice of mayo, mustard or ketchup on it and had went with mayo and it was plentiful.
The Kaiser roll it was served on was just slightly toasted. And the beef patty — there were these amazing little bits of onion in it. I like that. That’s how I make burgers at home. There was a nice onion and black pepper flavor to the meat, far from overwhelming but very good.
And the char. The char on the patty was perfect for a griddled burger. Though it was cooked medium well, it wasn’t overdone. The meat had nicely caramelized on the griddle, making a light crust that felt just ever so slightly crunchy.
The only thing I could fault the burger on was its tendency to disintegrate. It had come with a toothpick but for research purposes I had cut it in half. All that mayo, that big fat slice of tomato and such make it hard to handle. I got messy. It was worth it. I was even pleased with the Provolone cheese.
So there, Argentanians… I have been to Argenta and had a more than pleasing burger. I have two more to try these next few weeks in your area. Be forewarned.
You’ll find Reno’s Argenta Café at 312 Main Street in North Little Rock. They’re open Monday through Saturday starting at 11 a.m., closing around 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 2 a.m. Friday night (Saturday morning) and 1 a.m. Saturday night (Sunday morning). The joint is closed on Sunday. (501) 372-2906.

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